WASHINGTON (CNN) — A rush-hour collision Monday between two Metro trains north of downtown Washington, D.C., killed at least six people and injured scores, Mayor Adrian Fenty said.
One train was stationary when the crash happened, according to Metro General Manager John Catoe.
He called it the deadliest crash in the history of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, known as Metro. One of the dead was the female operator of one of the trains, Metro officials said.
“The scene is as horrific as you can imagine,” Fenty said in a news conference. “One car was almost squeezed completely together.”
The crash happened just before 5 p.m. on an above-ground track on the Red Line in the District of Columbia near the border with Takoma Park, Maryland. Watch woman say she, fellow passengers ‘went flying’
Seventy people were treated at the scene — 56 with minor injuries, 12 with moderate injuries and two with life-threatening injuries, according to Chief Dennis Rubin of Washington’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. See location of crash »
Both trains were on the same track, and one of them was stationary when the crash happened, said John Catoe, Metro general manager.
Video footage of the scene showed two cars of one train lying atop the cars of another train. Emergency personnel carried injured passengers, some on stretchers, from the wreckage. Watch injured passengers limp from the scene »
“Metro officials do not know the cause of the collision and are not likely to know the cause for several days as the investigation unfolds,” a Metro statement said.
Fire department personnel cut through the trains to help people from the wreckage, officials said at a press briefing. Some three hours after the accident, fire department sources said rescue operations had ceased, with ongoing work focusing on recovery.
Jodie Wickett, a nurse who was a passenger on one of the trains, said she was was texting on her phone when she felt a bump.
“About 5-10 seconds later, the train came to a complete halt — we went flying,” Jodie Wickett said.
She said she went through some of the cars, trying to help people.
“There was debris and people pinned underneath,” she said.
Ten to 15 minutes passed before she saw emergency personnel, she said.
Groups of people wearing green plastic ribbons to show they had been checked by paramedics left the scene about 90 minutes after the crash. Some were crying, and a woman with her arm in a sling who gave her name as Tijuana described the crash as “an earthquake.”
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, NTSB spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said.
At least two FBI officials were at the scene, and the FBI confirmed it was assisting as part of the National Capital Response Squad.
Amy Kudwa of the Department of Homeland Security said “at this early stage,” there was no indication of anything other than an accidental collision.
“We will continue to monitor closely and provide support in any way needed,” Kudwa said.
It was the second Metro crash to involve fatalities in the 33-year history of the transit authority. In January 1982, a derailment killed three people. The only other collision between Metro trains occurred in 2004.
“We are extremely saddened that there are fatalities as a result of this accident, which has touched our Metro family,” Catoe said in a statement.
“Our safety officials are investigating, and will continue to investigate until we determine why this happened and what must be done to ensure it never happens again.”